“Internal Distraction” Season

December 7th, 2020

Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich

If you don’t watch TAMPA TWO twice a week here with Buccaneers legend Derrick Brooks and Ira Kaufman, then you’re usually missing a quality nugget or two you won’t find elsewhere.

Brooks gave a little rarely-heard insight on the December collapse of 2008 in Episode 1 of last week. (You can catch that at the 5:45 mark in the video below.)

For those too young to remember, or those who forgot because they are so confused by years of losing, the Bucs jumped out to a 9-3 record in ’08 and then the wheels fell off. Tampa Bay lost its final four games and missed the playoffs; just one win in those four would have put them in the postseason.

The icing on that crap cake was dropping the season finale at home to the 4-11 Raiders quarterbacked by JaMarcus Russell, one of the most notorious draft busts in NFL history. The Bucs blew a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter.

The buzz late that season was there was a distraction caused by defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin deciding in October to leave after the season for the college ranks. In the video below, you’ll hear Brooks say it indeed was an “internal distraction.” And Brooks suggests that the Bucs should have had Kiffin step aside during that season to let Gus Bradley or Raheem Morris take over the defense.

To take it a step further, Brooks said that game-planning suffered.

Joe brings this up now because there are rumblings that Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could be a sought after 2021 head coaching candidate, along with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

What you think of their qualifications and viability is irrelevant. But how either man, or both, may be distracted by the details of preparing for potential interviews and reaching out to potential assistant coaches is relevant.

Neither has denied wanting to be a head coach in 2021, and Bucco Bruce Arians is highly supportive of both climbing the NFL ladder.

Joe is not wagging a finger at Leftwich or Bowles, just noting that these guys are human and it’s very easy to lose focus when you’re thinking of a gigantic guaranteed paycheck that could be there for you in five weeks or so.

Hopefully, there are no internal Bucs distractions preparing for the Vikings. But it is something to consider, and certainly something that could be a factor in Weeks 15 through 17, if the Bucs actually beat Minnesota and avoid laughingstock status.

27 Responses to ““Internal Distraction” Season”

  1. Joe in Michigan Says:

    It’d be a great Christmas gift for the Bucs to run the table in the last 4 games, and take some momentum into the playoffs. First things first, beat Minnesota.

  2. Roy T. Buford Says:

    This weekend is the biggest game of the season. No matter KC, LAR, NO, etc. TB vs MIN REALLY IS the biggest game. The Vikings roll in here Sunday for a 1pm game with a record of 6-6. They can knock the Bucs out of their now #2 wildcard. If the Bucs lay an egg Sunday after a horrendous 3rd quarter of the season, and their “get well” bye week, they are for all intents and purposes done and may be clinging to playoff hopes at best. They will have an identity and it is this: Despite a cast of all-stars, when they need to win, they can’t find the moxy to do it.

    Yup, this game is the biggest one of the season yet.

    And my hunch is there are distractions related to coaches that can’t figure it out and a QB and others on the team who know that.

  3. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Brady would be happy if we had an Edelman or Hump type of receiver. Although Godwin has the toughness and good hands to play in the slot, IMO, Brady also needs a sneaky fast receiver due to the fact Brady wants to get the ball out fast. Point is
    that both Godwin and Evans are more of a deep and intermediate threat. After being out of football ,I am not sure if Brown still has that speed. He may have been a necessary plugin while Evans and Godwin were hobbled by injuries but his anger
    management issues are concerning short and long term.

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    Sorry, but Leftwich & Bowles being ‘distracted because of prepping for potential HC positions’ falls in line as EXCUSE # 247. Both BL & TB know full well that if the Bucs fall on their face in these last 4 games & miss the playoffs, their shots for HC just went down the tubes.

    Bucs are a more talented team offensively AND defensively than the Vikings, Lions or Falcons … period.

    o Bucs (7-5): #7 offense – #13 defense
    o Vikings (6-6): #12 offense – #27 defense
    o Lions (5-7): #22 offense – #31 defense
    o Falcons (4-8): #11 offense – #17 defense

    With 3 NFC wildcard slots still up for grabs, it looks like it’ll be between the Bucs, Vikings, Bears, Cards & Rams or Seahawks (whichever doesn’t win NFC West). 49ers MIGHT still be in it also IF they win tonight. So that’s possibly as many as 6 teams vying for 3 spots. And a couple other teams still aren’t mathematically out of it, yet.

    Bottom line? Bucs’ OFFENSE better show up in all 4 games … NO EXCUSES. Bucs’ DEFENSE also better show up in all 4 games … NO EXCUSES.

  5. pewter941 Says:

    I feel like this is a must win vs the Vikings

  6. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Defense Rules: Agree 100%. As Al Davis used to say “Just win, baby”.

  7. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Rex Ryan has made comments about BL during the season like” come on man quit trying to call a game like you looking for a Head Coaching position. So from a former Head Coach, whether you like Rex or not, this train of thought has been out there for a while. I will state the obvious and say there has been erratic play calling all season long from the offense. Hopefully, there has been a legitimate reset for this team, and they actually play somewhere near their ability on offense. But as for the defense, it is smoke and mirrors and will be smoke and mirrors until they can rush the passer again. They need to put a lot of points up early to help out this defense. The Defense has a legitimate front 7, but a very scared backfield that concedes 1st downs just by positioning. The Secondary has morphed into Mike Smith’s prevent defense that we all hated to see. Not fun to see. GO BUCS!!!

  8. Bob in Valrico Says:

    @ DR
    With the way that that offense has been sluggish at times and the questions about playcalling, do you think BL should even be in the running for a HC position? I will say this, trying to turn a deep threat offense to one designed
    around the short passing game of Brady has not been without its pitfalls.

  9. FortMyersDave Says:

    Yeah it was obvious the Tampa D was distracted and ultimately collapsed before Kiffen left and so it makes sense that if Leftwich and Bowles are rumored to be sought that this could create another internal distraction yet in other cities franchises with assistants who are cherry picked to fill the various openings never seem to encounter this despite all the rumors you hear and read about and they just keep on winning. New England comes to mind during the past decade as do Pittsburgh in Cowher era and the G-Men under Parcells and so on. I think KC and the Saints have had rumors about their assistants over the past few years. What is different in Tampa than these other franchises that makes them so more likely to have turmoil and implode? Front office? Ownership? A curse on the team?

  10. FortMyersDave Says:

    Defense Rules; I think we can scratch the Bears from your list after they lost in the last minute to the Lions and are now 5-7, though theoretically they would at 9-7 have the tiebreaker over a 9-7 Buc team. Still hard to see the Bears making a run late after losing SIX straight, if that were the Bucs we’d be talking coaching change and the draft, not playoffs at 5-7 and I think Bear fans are only slightly less frustrated than Jet fans right now in how they lost yesterday. Hopefully the Bucs do not follow their lead and flame against a bad Detroit team.

  11. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Tell me again what makes either of these coaches viable HC material?
    Bowles, maybe.
    Leftwich…… hell no.

    I can think of only one thing…… and it dam sure isn’t ability.

  12. Tackleblockwin Says:

    In other news the Jets may go 0-16. Remaining schedule is @ Seattle, @ LA, Cleveland, @ NE. As a lifelong Bucs fan, for some reason, I’m attracted To following losing streaks.

  13. Jmarkbuc Says:


    I agree about the viability part… but on the other hand, somebody take them away from here. Even Bowles.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Bob … I got a hunch that BL wouldn’t DISCOURAGE any other team from considering him for a HC spot, but thus far I haven’t seen anything from his PERFORMANCE as a OC that tells me he’s HC material. These teams are multi-billion dollar BUSINESSES, and although every team owner really wants to win I’m sure, they all surely hold one thing even dearer: survival as a BUSINESS. Ironically, WINNING appears to be the best way to assure that survival.

    My gut feel Bob is that BL is being hog-tied by BA’s ‘Bombs Away’ philosophy. IOW I have no idea what BL’s offensive attack would look like if BA said ‘Do it however you want to do it Bryan; just win’. I kinda wonder if even the great Tom Brady isn’t trying too hard to cater to BA’s attack schemes. There’s no question in my mind that it racks up yardage & points, BUT at a cost: it’s INEFFICIENT. Maybe ‘helter-skelter’ is a better description. And that plays havoc on our defense IMO. It produces great stats, but not overpowering teams from what I see.

    So ya, I’m with you. I’d much prefer to see this super-talented team run a BALANCED OFFENSE. We’ve got the horses to CONTROL just about any football game we’ve played this year (except maybe the Saints games?) … control them in terms of TOP especially by using more running & a more consistent short passing game. But hey Bob, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had any calls from the Bucs’ coaching staff lately asking for my opinions on how to right the ship. And surely for good reason in my case.

  15. Davenport Buc Says:

    Please… Leftwich and Bowles have no more chance of becoming a HC in 2021 than I do.

    6 weeks ago I could understand the chatter but now, they (and this huge coaching staff) will be lucky to have a job with the Bucs at the end of the season.

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    FortMyersDave … I agree with you; I don’t really see the Bears making the playoffs but ‘never say never’ mostly because of them owning the tiebreaker with us. Their offense looks like it’s just too weak to let them make a run for it at this point. Losing yesterday was probably the nail in the coffin for this season. Although we MIGHT lose 2 of our remaining 4 games (finish 9-7?), the Bears in that scenario would have to run the table to beat us & get in. VERY doubtful huh.

  17. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The NFC West teams have games against each other…..that guarantees some losses on their schedules…..we however, control our own destiny….

    If we cant’ beat the Vikings after having a bye….at home….with everything on the line….we don’t deserve a playoff birth. And BL & Bowles should be happy to hang onto their jobs….much less get promotions to HC.

  18. 813bucboi Says:


    i agree…well said…

    GO BUCS!!!!

  19. Hodad Says:

    The distraction might be that they’re worried about keeping the job they have!

  20. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Byron “I’m just here for the free gear” probably needs to move on.
    Get some fresh gear from another team!

  21. PSL Bob Says:

    Offensive and defensive coordinators are frequently poached from winning teams. It happens every year. Yet well coached teams don’t let the possibility of losing one of their coordinators interfere with game prep during the current season. I would think the players’ focus would be on making the playoffs, not whether one of their coordinators may not be back next year. It’s not as if either have a long tenure with the team. They came in with Arians, whereas Kiffin had been with the team for years and all of the players were totally bought into a system which had been so successful. So apples and oranges on this issue Joe.

  22. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I certainly take the point but I’m not really concerned.

    These guys are professionals. They are used to living their lives in clearly segmented seasons. There’s plenty of time in the off season…NO time in the season or the playoffs.

    I think after years and years of a certain life rhythm…moves all in the offseason…focus during the season…they’re just in a fortuitous rut.

  23. orlbucfan Says:

    Watched a lot of the Vikings-Jax game. Jax sure didn’t play like a cupcake who quit even at 1-11. I sure hope the 2 Methusalehs (BAzz and Brady) got their heads on straight with this bye week. Find out Sunday.

  24. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    Tackleblockwin Says:
    “As a lifelong Bucs fan, for some reason, I’m attracted To following losing streaks.”

    Come to think of it, this may explain my affinity for underdogs!

  25. Dan Williamson Says:

    Im so sick of the freaking fabricated drama. Just do your job. Call plays better, prepare the defense better so we arent blown out and caught on our round heels in the first quarter. Arians could use a woodshed woopin’ also for his inability to bring this team to a family fighting for each other. Emotion is such a big part of the game, every player says that. Wheres the emotion? The passion? All coaches….do better.

  26. Trey Long Says:

    Having watched New England for years and can say unequivocally the Tampa Bay coaching lately has been poor to awful. One on one with Hill, no running game, few slot receptions, way too little play action.
    Build a first down machine and THEN THE LONG BALL OPENS UP. They are so misusing their talent its pathetic.

  27. View from 132 Says:

    Remember that game like it was yesterday… good stuff from Derrick.